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Dressage for all is the theme for this year’s British Dressage (BD) National Convention but does BD really provide dressage for all? Maybe, but it’s not the same for all.

If we are to have three tiers — bronze, silver and gold, as in the new structure — then surely we should have three championships, and each of those should run twice a year.
Perhaps with the benefit of hindsight BD should have stated what it wanted to achieve, devised the ideal championship structure, then built the system around getting the right people to the right finals.

Trying to turn a two-tier system with a two-tier championship into a three-tier system still with a two-tier final format was always going to create problems. Maybe if there was a bronze summer championship more riders would have chosen that route.

Let’s give all members the same opportunities, with a pathway to follow, awards on the way and a championship. Moans from members about the new structure have been taken on board by BD and further changes made. Time will tell if the new “new” structure will please more people, when it kicks in and members discover what they can and can’t do.

On first read, two things come to mind. Why are prix st georges (PSG) and inter I clubbed together for eligibility, and why should entering a Premier League show make you ineligible for some classes? Neither of these rules makes sense.

Debate around the new structure has got me more involved with the BD forum. I did tell myself to step away from the keyboard, but I’ve never been one to stay quiet where my beloved dressage is concerned.

I found myself deep in discussion with other sensible, deeply passionate people. I try to see things from all sides and understand other, differing views, but I struggle to communicate with people who start a sentence with ‘I disagree’. Isn’t it possible for posters to say what they think without telling others they are wrong?

Youth teams

I’m passionate about dressage and its future; us oldies are the custodians of the sport and we have a responsibility to pass it on to the next generation in a healthy state.

We must also prepare the next generation to take on the responsibility. The priorities for UK Sport and Sport England are evolving for the next funding cycle, with more emphasis on the development and training of our talented riders of the future. This is a very exciting prospect, so I was delighted to be asked to join a team to work on BD’s strategic plan for taking under-25s forward.

It was uplifting to be in a room of people working for the good of our young riders, who all share ambitions and aspirations for our sport’s future success. An essential part of this will be ensuring that BD can continue to send teams to the European Championships. We need them to have this invaluable experience if we are to stay at the top, where Carl, Charlotte and Valegro — along with the valued lottery funding — has now put us.

 

Junk mail?

It continually surprises me how difficult communication is to get right, especially in this age of computers and email. Junk seems to find its way to me very easily, so why not useful information?

I attended the BD AGM this year and was pleased to get an update on the long-awaited BD website. It is finished and ready to go, but it refuses to talk effectively to the antiquated back-end database and, until lines of communication can be reliably opened, it will not be launched.

Ref Horse & Hound; 27 October 2016